Editor’s note: This is the first in an occasional look at technology businesses operating in San Luis Obispo County.
Company: Elements Inc., 1150 Laurel Lane, Suite 115, San Luis Obispo
Service: Websites and Internet marketing for businesses
Founded: February 1999
Financials: Declined to disclose
When Jeremy LaDuque founded Elements in February 1999, he had high hopes for his San Luis Obispo-based company, which provides online marketing, Web design and development for small and midsize businesses.
Nearly 12 years later, LaDuque’s firm continues to grow and is seizing opportunities in the midst of tough economic times.
“Ever since 2009, we’ve seen a steady increase in businesses wanting to reinvest in online marketing,” LaDuque said.
In the past four years, the company has grown to 20 employees from eight and added a host of franchise businesses to its list of clients, including Maaco, Curves, Jiffy Lube, Sportclips, a men’s haircutting salon, Weedman, Glass Doctor and Home Helpers, a senior care provider with more than 250 locations nationwide.
LaDuque credits much of his business’ success to the fact that it gets recurring revenue from offering ongoing Web hosting and support, as well as the company’s software, which he said allows “small and midsize businesses to capitalize on online marketing.”
“So when we looked at opportunities of how to reach our goal of hosting 10,000 websites, we saw a huge opportunity in working with multi-unit organizations such as private schools, national brands and franchise systems,” he said.
His firm now provides those services to small and midsized businesses, as well as other services to the parent company of those organizations. Last year, LaDuque said Elements’ business increased 50 percent, due in large part to its acquisition of its largest competitor, NetFuel.
The company now has an office in Philadelphia as well as San Luis Obispo, and provides online marketing for more than 3,500 franchisee websites in five languages and 20 countries. This year, Elements is on track to add a few thousand more franchisee websites to its system, LaDuque said.
The company is also giving clients a platform to market their businesses through social media, which LaDuque said has become pervasive.
“We’re making enhancements with respect to social media and local listings ... or map listings like Google Places.”
LaDuque has set his sights on finding another company to acquire — a firm that will help Elements enhance the online local listings piece.
“There’s a whole host of new services a small to midsized business needs around directories, maps, online advertising, organic optimization and there are many companies that are simply not growing as fast or they’re not able to execute their plans,” he said.
“When a company in an economy like this falls on hard times, they have to sell or do something to change. This kind of economy has brought those types of opportunities to the forefront.”